Northern Ireland public transport strikes will go ahead before Christmas, unions confirm

Bus and train services will grind to a halt before Christmas with action confirmed for this Friday and Saturday and next week.

Transport unions confirmed on Thursday that members of the three main unions- Unite, GMB and Siptu - will take part in the latest action.

The latest round of strikes follow a previous day of action which saw public transport workers walk out earlier this month. The first of its kind in eight years.

The unions have said all bus and rail services across Northern Ireland will be suspended this Friday and Saturday on one of the busiest weekends of the year for retail and hospitality.

They will also strike on Friday December 22.

Public transport workers are engaging in the action as a result of an ongoing pay dispute.

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The failure of the Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris to intervene and provide any pay increase has left Translink workers no alternative but to escalate industrial action.

“All too often Translink workers are on the front line of social disorder or unrest now in the midst of the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation, they are being told to accept an 11% real-terms pay cut.

“That is completely unacceptable. They continue to have the full support of Unite in their fight.”

GMB regional organiser Peter Macklin said: “At the beginning of the month, Chris Heaton-Harris was denying he had any powers to deliver a pay increase to workers then earlier this week he tabled a completely inadequate financial package which he claimed would be enough for a public sector pay increase.

“While that has been universally rejected – his actions show that he has had the power all along to intervene and address our members’ pay claim.”

He added: “Our members are not pawns in a game of chess. They cannot be denied a cost-of-living increase because of a political stalemate.

“They deserve and need a pay increase. Responsibility for this strike lies wholly with the Secretary of State.”

Siptu regional organiser Niall McNally said: “The impact of the industrial action by public transport workers was the driving force for this week’s political developments and confirms the strength of workers when we stand together.

“The Secretary of State has shown he can move so let’s see him provide the funding needed for Translink to both improve our public transport services and deliver a cost-of-living increase for workers.

“We are calling on civil society to get behind the public transport workers.

“This strike is the cutting edge of the fight for proper funding for all public services in Northern Ireland, funding that will provide decent pay for all public sector workers and end the staffing crisis.

“The clock is ticking for Mr Heaton-Harris – he needs to move and address our members’ pay concerns before we further escalate strike action in the New Year.”

The Northern Ireland Office has previously said the UK Government has no authority to negotiate pay in Northern Ireland and seeing the return of locally elected, accountable representatives remains a priority.

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